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Authors: Brenda Jernigan

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Romance, #Historical, #Historical Romance

Southern Seduction

BOOK: Southern Seduction
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Southern Seduction

 

 

Brenda Jernigan

Books by Brenda Jernigan

 

The Ladies Series

 

THE DUKE’S LADY

THE EARL’S LADY

THE WICKED LADY

 

CHRISTMAS IN CAMELOT

 

The Misfit Series

 

DANCE ON THE WIND

UNTIL SEPTEMBER

WHISPERS ON THE WIND

 

The Seduction Series

 

SOUTHERN SEDUCTION

WESTERN SEDUCTION
- coming soon

 

Contemporary Series

 

SEPPTEMBER STORM

THE CHOICE

 

e-mail - [email protected]

webpage -www.brendajbooks.com

 

This book is dedicated to my editor Kate Duffy.

Copyright © 2007
by Alexandria Scott aka Brenda Jernigan

 

March 2014 Published by Brenda Jernigan - at Smashwords

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the Publisher, excepting brief quotes used in reviews.

 

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only.  This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people.  If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient.  If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy.  Thank you for respecting the hard work of the author.

 

Prologue

 

 

Courtesans rose from various backgrounds to positions of great power, independence and wealth.  Some became the toast of London.  They controlled their lives and the lives of others.

Most embraced the life they lived and wanted nothing more.  And then there were woman such as Brooke Hammond who wanted none of it.

She didn’t start out to be a whore.

Or should she use the more dignified word . . . courtesan.

Life was a game of survival, and that was exactly what Brooke had been doing . . . surviving and hoping a better life would come along.

And at long last she had her chance . . . .

 

Chapter One

 

 

Brooke Hammond, Shannon McKinley and Jocelyn Rutland were all survivors in one way or another.

The women stood on the rolling deck of the
Flying Lady,
watching the American shoreline grow bigger, wondering what adventure awaited them.

A warm, gentle breeze blew strands of hair across Brooke’s nose.
She reached up and removed her hat, then tucked the wayward curls behind her ears, not that it would do much good as long as she remained at the ship’s rail.

She glanced at her friends
standing on either side of her.  They were much too quiet. She imagined that they were all afraid to say anything for fear they would wake up from this wonderful dream of a new life and a new beginning.

Brooke wouldn’t let anything
stop them now. She and her friends were no longer the naive women they’d once been, waiting hopefully for some wonderful man to change their lives.

Well, maybe Shannon still believed that there was someone out there just for her, but she was Scottish so that explained her farfetched, romantic notions.
And what man wouldn’t want Shannon with her soft white skin and beautiful auburn hair?

But Brooke didn’t believe in love.
From what she’d seen, men and women used each other to get what they wanted. And if you didn’t have money, you had to depend on others. She could remember what it was like to be in the streets of London with no home . . . no money. The thought still made her shiver. She had experienced being poor, and she wanted nothing to do with that. Nor did she want to rely on someone else for what she needed. She was going to make something of her life, and there wasn’t a man alive she’d let stand in her way.

She could remember what it was like to be in the streets of London with no home . . . no money.
The thought still made her shiver.

As a young girl she’d had visions of true love dancing in her head, but they were soon dashed in the harsh light of reality.
Sometimes life didn’t turn out like you hoped. But it would now, for her. This was her chance at a new start. Brooke sighed as a group of seagulls cried raucously, bringing her attention back to the present.

“I wish you were both going with me to New Orleans,” Brooke murmured wistfully to her friends.
They had been together over the last few years, and understood each other well. It would be sad not to have them nearby to talk to every day.

Shannon shoved thick
, red hair over her shoulder then tied the long, locks back to keep them out of her face. “I’d love tae see the plantation, but we agreed when we started out that we’d be wantin’ tae find our own ways,” she said in her Scottish brogue. “’Twas nice of Mr. Jeffries tae find me a position on a ranch, though.”

“That’s right, we did agree,” Jocelyn chimed in.
“At least, you both know where you’re going and what you’re going to do.” She pointed to her chest. “I, on the other hand, don’t have the vaguest notion what I want to do. Hopefully, there is a respectable job for a woman somewhere out in that city,” she said, nodding toward New York. “Mr. Jeffries gave me the name of an acquaintance of his who might be helpful, but I’ll take no handouts. I intend to support myself and be independent.”

Brooke smiled.
She’d known Jocelyn the longest. They met at boarding school and had liked each other from the start. Jocelyn definitely didn’t believe in love. Unfortunately, of the three of them, she had tasted love and what had it gotten her? A broken heart and tossed out of her father’s house. So she’d turned to her Uncle, Jackson Montgomery, and he had taken her into his home where she and Brooke were reunited.

After Jackson Montgomery, Duke of Devonshire, entered Brooke’s life, everything had changed.
He understood that she wasn’t living the life she wanted. Whoever started out wanting to be a courtesan?

It was true that he’d kept her in a town house he’d bought just for her, but Jackson wasn’t like the other men she’d known.
He had been her friend, never as much as hinting at sexual relations. It seemed as though in some strange way, he saw the good in Brooke and wanted to protect her. When he’d taken in his nieces, Jocelyn and Shannon, who were very close to Brooke’s age, they had become a family of sorts as the girls had bonded with each other.

Jackson had promised that he’d leave Brooke and the girls well taken care of.
When he’d died, he’d left Brooke his American plantation and enough money for the young women to leave England and make a fresh start in America. He also left the incomparable Mr. Jeffries, the solicitor in charge of his affairs, to help the women travel and get settled.

Brooke had been astonished that Jackson had actually done as he said he would.
It had been her experience that people didn’t usually follow through with promises, so she’d had no real expectations. She’d heard too many empty promises in her lifetime.

Shannon shook Brooke’s arm, bringing her back to the present.
“Where is Mr. Jeffries?” Shannon paused, then added. “Ye seem tae be daydreamin’ a lot lately.”

Brooke gave her a faint smile. “I was remembering Jackson. He was such a special and extraordinary man.”

“And a good uncle,” Jocelyn added.
“I can’t say the same about my aunt, though. I was young when she went away, so I don’t remember her well.”

Brooke frowned.
“I thought she was dead.”

Jocelyn glanced at Shannon.
“Do you remember her?”

“Nae.
I just remember that no one ever spoke o’ Aunt Barbara again, sae she must huv died,” Shannon said then went on, “but our uncle seemed tae be a happier mon without her.”

Jocelyn nodded in agreement.

“As for Jeffries,” Brooke said, “I’ve not seen him since breakfast. He told me that he had to make preparations for our travel to New Orleans.”

“Wasn’t it grand of Mr. Jeffries to accompany us from England?”
Jocelyn turned and propped her arms on the rail. “I’m not sure any of us would have known what to do. We would probably still be standing on the docks in London, watching the ship sail away without us.”

“Now now,” Brooke countered.
“Somehow, we would have found the correct ship. However, it was Jackson’s instructions that Mr. Jeffries would accompany us, so he had no choice. Jeffries told me that I had inherited a plantation, and we were provided enough money for travel. And, of course, each of you were left a thousand pounds to help get started. I believe Jackson was hoping that we’d all go to Moss Grove. Evidently, he didn’t know just how independent his nieces are.” Brooke smiled. “But for some strange reason, Jeffries was instructed not to read the entire will until we reached Moss Grove Plantation.”

“’Tis a bit odd,” Shannon said.

“I thought so, too,” Brooke agreed. “The only reason I can come up with is that it will be easier for me if Jeffries introduces me to the household staff, and to be truthful, I’m glad we have him along.

“America is a strange country I’ve only read about.
I’d be completely lost without him. However,” Brooke said with a saucy smile, “I have studied books on the planting of cotton so that I’ll know something about living on a plantation.”

“I agree.”
Shannon nodded. “The mon has been verra helpful wi’ makin’ arrangements fer my trip.” Her face lit up with a smile. “Just think, I’m goin’ tae be a governess fer twa bairns. From their descriptions, they sound adorable.”

Brooke looked at Shannon with amused wonder.
“Besides being a child yourself, what do you know about children?”

“Verra little,” Shannon admitted as a flash of humor crossed her face.
“I ken if I can handle men and their childish ways, then the bairns wull only be smaller, therefore easier tae handle.”

Everyone laughed, enjoying each other’s company as they usually did.
Yet each felt a twinge of sadness, knowing that their time together was slipping away.

“If you ask me, it sounds as if you’re going out into the wilderness,” Jocelyn said.

“Aye, Texas Territory wull be a verra different, but different is what I want,” she said with a slight smile. “I want adventure and tae see all those cowboys close up.”

A loud thump made all three women flinch and grab for the rail as the ship bumped, then settled next to the wooden platform.
They peered over the railing, witnessing the dock spring to life with crewmen racing along the platform, grabbing the ropes to tie off the ship, and shouting instructions to the other crewmates.

The streets leading up to the pier were filled with wooden pier drays, wagons and fruit vendors, each hawking their wares for money.
Wagons lined up waiting for the ship’s cargo to be offloaded. And there seemed to be a multitude of carriages waiting for disembarking passengers.

“Do you have your trunk packed?” Brooke asked.

Both women nodded.

“In that case I better go and get my reticule,” Brooke said, turning away from the rail.
“I’ll meet both of you on the dock.”

As Brooke made her way to the cabin they shared, she wouldn’t
have admitted to anyone that she wasn’t as confident as she tried to appear. Truth be told, she was both excited and scared, if that made any sense. It certainly didn’t to her.

She would miss her friends.
They were the only ones who understood her, who actually knew what she’d been through, and had experienced some of the loneliness she had. But they had a right to their own lives, and she wanted them to be happy.

Brooke raised her chin, stubbornly forcing herself to be brave.
She wouldn’t allow herself to be sad today. Today she had a bright new future ahead of her. Reaching her cabin she pulled open the door, strode to the bed, and grabbed her reticule.

 

 

Back on deck, Brooke noticed that some of the passengers had made their way to the dock.
She left the ship then shoved her way through the crowd to where her friends stood with Mr. Jeffries.

Mr. Jeffries had
rented two carriages, one for Brooke and another for her friends. He was overseeing the loading of their trunks on top of the carriage. Jeffries wasn’t a tall man, but he was a couple of inches taller than Brooke. His hair, or what there was of it, was gray. He had a bald spot on the very top and bushy hair around the sides. As always, he was dressed in his gray vest and white shirt.

BOOK: Southern Seduction
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